I’ve spent the weekend playing with Vengeance on the Legion alpha, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re great. If I had to draw a comparison, I’d say it’s similar to the protection warrior. They generate resources similarly (through damage taken and rotational abilities) and spend them on similar active mitigation. They both have a cheap, maintenancy ability (Shield Block, Demon Spikes) and a expensive powerful ability (Ignore Pain and Soul Cleave). The Vengeance resource, Pain, is the same as Rage, except it doesn’t decay (yet). After that, they two specs are very different.
If you got used to the Havoc demon hunter, get prepared for something completely different. The only abilities shared between the two specs are Throw Glaive, Consume Magic, and Spectral Sight. Here’s a list of abilities I had in the alpha:
- All the cool double jumping and gliding passives.
- Throw Glaive: pulling tool, moderate cleave damage
- Consume Magic: interrupt
- Spectral Sight
- Metamorphosis: big defensive cooldown
- Demon Spikes: proactive AM
- Demonic Wards: tanking passives
- Fiery Brand: medium defensive cooldown
- Immolation Aura: AoE
- Infernal Strike: gap closer
- Mastery: Fel Blood
- Shear: gcd filler
- Sigil of Chains: AoE CC
- Sigil of Flame: AoE damage
- Sigil of Silence: AoE silence
- Soul Cleave: primary AM
- Torment: taunt
- Felblade: resource generator
Everything revolves around Soul Cleave, your big heal AM and strongest damage. And it also cleaves. It’s basically your Keg Smash but a consumer instead of a builder. Similarly, pooling Pain for timely Soul Cleaves in dangerous content will be important, as the heal is worthless at full health.
I like it, but it’s odd to re-introduce spamming for resource generation. Hitting something every GCD is where people learning a class often mess up (see Tiger Palm for live Brewmasters), and tying that to resource regeneration is unexpected in this expansion, especially when most resource generation was removed from the tank’s control.
If you’re taking extra damage, then you want to spend some pain on Demon Spikes, too. You won’t be using it much while leveling since that Pain is better spent on your big damage ability, Soul Cleave. But it’s powerful proactive damage mitigation. You actually sprout spikes out of your back when this skill is active.
Infernal Strike is like Heroic Leap but usable much more often. It can be awkward since it’s targeted, but I love it. When you land, you briefly transform into a demon and it’s beautifully satisfying.
If for some reason a gap closer that requires ground targeting isn’t your thing, Speed Demon is a talent that adds a charge to your Felblade.
For AoE and maybe even single target, you’ll want to fit in Immolation Aura and Sigil of Flame. You can cleave with Throw Glaive, though I found it more productive to spend GCDs on building Pain for the far more effective Soul Cleave.
Immolation Aura right now appears as a subtle flaming effect on your character, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that was spruced up a bit. It feels similar to Rushing Jade Wind because you use it then run around letting it hit things.
Sigils are ground targeted spells that activate after 2 seconds and effect everything standing on top of them. There are a lot of talents that effect them, like making them spawn Soul Fragments, or making them auto target beneath you and reducing their cooldowns.
Speaking of talents, for Vengeance the talents on each tier don’t have a theme, even more so than other classes. Most rows are a choice between three wildly different things, like: movement, self healing, or pain generation. There’s basically “the choices you might take if you need a lot of movement” or “the choices you might take if you need more self heals”, or “aoe talents” as you go down the tree, not across. It’s sort of jarring because you’ve been trained to evaluate talents on a row and compare them with each other, but that’s not the case here. But this way you can change talents quite a bit depending on the fight.
Metamorphosis is your big cooldown, and it’s unique in that it doesn’t do much passively. It increases your max health and greatly increases your Pain generation. With all the Pain flowing freely, you can use Soul Cleave much more often. That makes it a dps cooldown as well as a damage smoothing and healing cooldown.
Leveling with all these skills is pretty effective. I was still slower than your typical damage dealer, but it felt much better when I got together a group I could AoE. Charge in with Infernal Strike, activate Immolation Aura, go through the normal Soul Cleave / Felblade / Shear rotation, and maybe add a Sigil of Flame or Fiery Brand for good measure. There’s still some things missing, like active magic mitigation, but so far this first glimpse of Vengeance feels much more capable than the first glimpse of Brewmaster when that spec was first introduced.